Locker room essential: eye masks

Eye masks are now a part of the locker room regimen, says Sarah Garland, senior manager of planning for the Spa at Equinox. A big part of their appeal is their convenience factor: “They’re single-use, so you can throw them on for 10 minutes (or less) while doing your hair or getting dressed for an instant boost.”

Post-workout, they can help reduce any puffiness and cool skin down, while adding a hit of hydration to prep skin for makeup.

While most eye masks boast multiple benefits (read: they’ll help fight dark circles, puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles all in one package), look out for these key ingredients, depending on your primary skin concern. (And as with any skincare product, be sure the ingredients you’re looking for appear among the first three on the label so you’re more likely to see results, Garland says.)

PUFFINESS: Activated charcoal

Just as activated charcoal face masks can be useful for pulling impurities from pores, the ingredient can also benefit the skin under the eyes.

“Activated charcoal helps with puffiness by encouraging lymphatic drainage,” Garland says. “At the same time, it also restricts the capillaries to reduce dark circles.” Try Arlo Blak Activated Charcoal Collagen Eye Mask, which is made from activated coconut shell charcoal.

Pro application tip: Once you remove the mask itself, use your ring finger (it provides the least amount of pressure) to delicately pat the remaining serum into your skin. Garland also recommends using the small end of a jade roller (try HERBIVORE’s Jade Facial Roller) to both push the product into the skin and help remove excess fluid under the eyes.

DRYNESS: Hyaluronic acid

When the thin skin under eyes is dry, it’s not only more irritable and less likely to tolerate other active ingredients, but it also accentuates fine lines and makes skin look more weathered, says Chicago-based dermatologist Jordan Carqueville, M.D.

To combat this dryness, look for an under-eye mask with hyaluronic acid. “It’s a molecule that binds to water, keeping the skin moist and plump when applied,” Carqueville explains.

Try Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Mask—the gold foil prevents the serum from evaporating and helps the product to be better absorbed.


Caffeine is one of the best ingredients you can use in an under-eye product for brightening and combating dark circles, says Garland.

“Caffeine constricts blood vessels, helping to improve puffiness and purple discoloration,” explains Emily Arch, M.D., a dermatologist in Chicago.

For a cooling post-workout option (think: the upgraded version of putting cucumbers on your eyelids), try Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber De-Tox Hydra-Gel Eye Patches. They contain cooling aloe and cucumber, as well as caffeine and arnica—an herb that has been used as a natural remedy for bruises, swelling, and inflammation for years, Garland says.


“Collagen is a natural building block of skin that gives skin its volume. As we get older collagen production decreases, leading to fine lines and loose skin,” Garland explains.

To combat these effects, Arch suggests looking for a product with peptides. “They’re well tolerated for sensitive under-eye skin and also help stimulate collagen production,” she says. For even more powerful effects, look for retinol as well.

Try FlashPatch Restoring Night Eye Gels, which contain a combination of peptides and retinol to firm and tighten the skin around the eyes and reduce the appearance of fine lines and crow's feet.

To get the most out of your eye mask, don’t just put it under your eyes: “Flip it over afterwards and apply it under your brow to treat that area as well,” Garland says.

Photo: Getty Images

Be a more sustainable athlete

7 eco-friendly habits for athletes

How to live more sustainably

“Little things that aren’t super hard can have a positive environmental impact.”